Wendy Syndrome: Caring for Others and Neglecting Yourself

It's important that we take care of ourselves in order to be able to care for other people. If we don’t, our health, happiness, and personal growth can be affected.
Wendy Syndrome: Caring for Others and Neglecting Yourself
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 11 July, 2022

Many people think that the description given by popular psychology to Wendy Syndrome is somewhat outdated and typical of past generations (our mothers and grandmothers). However, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the need to care for our partners, give them our all, and put their needs before our own, is something that’s viewed as normal today. Indeed, many women make the mistake of “loving too much” causing them to lose their own self-esteem.

It’s important to limit this and work to find a balance. After all, you might adore your partner and want to give a lot of love to your parents or friends, but you must never go so far as to forget your own needs. Indeed, nothing should be more important than your own personal growth.

In this article, we’ll find out a little bit more about Wendy Syndrome.

Wendy Syndrome, the perfect woman for a Peter Pan

Do you remember the characters of Wendy Darling and Peter Pan from the famous book by James M. Barrie? Peter is a young boy who refuses to grow up. He doesn’t want to have the responsibilities of an adult. In fact, he seeks a life of adventure without ever having to enter the realm of stability and maturity.

Peter Pan represents immature men. They’re not only unable to take responsibility for their own lives, but also those of others.

So what about Wendy Darling? She’s the young girl who sews Peter’s shadow back in place so that he doesn’t have to worry about losing it again. Furthermore, from day one, she takes responsibility for cleaning the house, and looking after the “lost boys”. In fact, she gives everything to others because that’s what makes her happy.

You might also be interested to read: Compassion Fatigue: The Exhaustion of Caring

Characteristics of people with Wendy syndrome

They prioritize the needs of others

  • They feel the necessity to care for and tend to others. That’s because it makes them feel that they’re making others happy.
  • They prioritize the needs of others. Then, slowly, they begin to sacrifice their own desires and the things that are important to them.

They claim that doing things for others makes them feel better

  • For these people, giving care is a way of offering love.
  • They do it freely and because they want to.
  • No one makes them care for others.

However, they often “become attached” to a partner with Peter Pan Syndrome. These are immature men who allow people to take care of them, who don’t want to be responsible, and who are comfortable with having a partner who takes responsibility for everything, including their children.

Wendy Darling in The Wendy Syndrome

Fear of being alone

People with Wendy Syndrome fear two things. Firstly, they’re afraid that other people will stop needing them. Secondly, they fear that they’ll be left all alone.

The idea of not having anyone to take care of terrifies them because this is what makes them feel useful and how they demonstrate their love. At the same time, it helps them to see themselves as valuable and necessary.

Other symptoms of Wendy syndrome

  • They like to think they’re indispensable.
  • Their idea of love involves sacrifice.
  • They encourage attachment and codependency in others.
  • They do everything possible so others (partners, children) don’t get upset.
  • In a way, they try to control others.
  • They want to do everything, even others’ tasks.
  • They usually act in a parental way with their partner.

You might also like to read: Seven Signs You Don’t Love Yourself Enough

Causes and consequences

It’s thought that the origin of Wendy syndrome lies in the family past of the sufferer. They may have felt unprotected in their childhood, so seek to overprotect to compensate. In effect, they’re assuming the role that their parents should’ve adopted with them.

The sufferer doesn’t usually recognize the way they are. However, although caring and attending to others makes them happy, there comes a time when they realize that others may be manipulating them. Or, they realize that they don’t feel fulfilled as a person.

Under certain circumstances, they may begin to realize that they’re giving far too much for nothing. They also might start to feel frustrated and undervalued.

This is when other problems can appear. For instance, they may end up feeling aimless because they have no one to care for, as this is all they know. In fact, they have to be careful that they don’t end up suffering from depression.

Caring for ourselves and others

Woman sitting in a field blowing a dandelion flower, caring for herself

Our partners, our family, and, especially, our children, are those people who are part of our lives, who identify us, and who are indisputable pillars in our daily life.

Therefore, to get over Wendy syndrome, maybe we should stop caring for others? Or to start worrying about who we love? Absolutely not.

What we must do is restore the balance in all our personal relationships, taking care of them and taking care of ourselves. In this sense, you must take the following aspects into account:

Personal growth

Don’t forget the importance of fostering your personal growth. You must have your own space and hobbies. You must also defend your values and take care of your self-esteem.

If you give everything to others, you’ll remain empty. Then, you’ll experience dissatisfaction, frustration, and sadness. Furthermore, what use are you if you’re unhappy? Absolutely none at all.

Positive energy

If you’re a person who feels proud of yourself, feels happy, with good self-esteem, and has the autonomy to take responsibility for yourself, you’ll also contribute this positive energy to others and you’ll radiate positive emotions.

You deserve to feel loved

You can care for your partner or the person you love but keep in mind that you also deserve to be cared for, recognized, and valued. It should be like a game where both win and neither lose.

If you’re one of those people who feel happy when caring for others, remember that you should start by taking care of yourself. In fact, if you fall, so will they. Therefore, you must cultivate your own happiness, and then you’ll also be able to offer happiness to others.

It’s worth thinking about!

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